Is Crypto Real Money?
Cryptocurrencies have been a hot topic in the financial world since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009. They are often compared to traditional fiat currencies such as the US dollar, euro, and yen, and the question arises as to whether cryptocurrencies should be considered real money. In this essay, we will explore the concept of money, the characteristics of cryptocurrencies, and the arguments for and against their classification as real money.
What is Money?
Money is a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. It is a tool that facilitates trade and makes it easier to carry out economic transactions. Traditionally, money has been represented by physical objects such as coins and banknotes, but with the advent of digital technology, money has taken on a new form in the shape of electronic currencies, including cryptocurrencies.
How Cryptocurrency Relates to Legacy Money
Cryptocurrencies, as defined by Britannica, are digital assets that exist and operate on a public ledger called a blockchain, which records all crypto transactions. Blockchain encryption is designed to make all transactions immutable and secure from tampering, counterfeit, and other forms of fraudulent transactions. This digital form of currency is decentralized, meaning it is not controlled by any government or financial institution.
One of the defining characteristics of cryptocurrencies is their limited supply. For example, Bitcoin has a maximum supply of 21 million coins, and once this limit is reached, no more coins can be created. This is in contrast to fiat currencies, which can be printed at will by central banks. Cryptocurrencies also offer anonymity, as transactions are not tied to real-world identities. This characteristic has led to concerns about their use in illegal activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing.
There are several arguments in favor of classifying cryptocurrencies as real money. Firstly, they are widely accepted as a means of payment. Many merchants and online retailers now accept cryptocurrencies as payment, including major companies such as Microsoft, Overstock, and PayPal. Secondly, cryptocurrencies meet the three criteria of money, being a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Thirdly, cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used for investment purposes, with their value being subject to fluctuations in the same way as traditional currencies and other financial assets. Lastly, cryptocurrencies are being used for remittances, particularly in developing countries where traditional banking systems may be lacking.
Opposition of Crypto Being Money
Of course though, there are also arguments against classifying cryptocurrencies as real money. One of the main arguments is that they are not widely accepted as a means of payment. While some merchants and online retailers do accept cryptocurrencies, the vast majority do not, and they are not yet a mainstream payment method. This limits their usefulness as a medium of exchange. Another argument is that cryptocurrencies are too volatile to be considered a store of value. The value of cryptocurrencies can fluctuate wildly, sometimes within a single day, making them a risky investment. Finally, cryptocurrencies are not backed by any government or financial institution, which can lead to concerns about their stability and security.
Popular Payments That Can Be Made With Crypto
Pay bills: You can use crypto to pay your utilities, phone bills, rent, and more. Some popular websites allow you to log in, provide your biller information, and send your cryptocurrency to pay your bills.
Bakkt App: The Bakkt App allows you to buy, sell, and trade crypto, and you can use Bitcoin to pay at several Bakkt partners, including Starbucks. Bakkt has also partnered with Cantaloupe and Wyndham Hotels.
Online shopping: You can use crypto to shop online at various websites. Purse.io allows you to buy anything on Amazon with Bitcoin. SpendaBit offers an easy way to buy whatever you're looking for with Bitcoin.
Travel: You can use crypto to book travel. Expedia is one of the most popular online travel companies that accepts Bitcoin. Travala is a crypto-first online travel company that accepts dozens of cryptocurrencies and offers an attractive loyalty points system.
Debit cards: Bitpay offers a debit card that can be used in tandem with their crypto wallet, allowing you to spend crypto at any merchant that accepts Mastercard.
In conclusion, the question of whether cryptocurrencies should be classified as real money is a complex one. While they do meet the three criteria of money and are increasingly being used for payment and investment purposes, their limited acceptance, volatility, and lack of backing from governments and financial institutions are factors that must also be considered. Ultimately, the answer may depend on one's personal perspective and beliefs about the nature of money and the role of government in regulating it.